Plan to address oxygen shortage in Eastern Cape

HEALTH UPDATE: Eastern Cape premier Premier Oscar Mabuyane Image: WERNER HILLS

The provincial government is putting in place measures to help the department of health address the shortage of oxygen, Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane announced on Tuesday.

“Oxygen has emerged as a critical resource during this pandemic.

“At present oxygen storage for our vast province is in Nelson Mandela Bay.

“This is an untenable situation for the provision of quality health care to our people,” Mabuyane said.

He said they were working with a service provider to establish bulk oxygen banks in all 19 district hospitals in the province to fully address the shortage of oxygen.

He said the province’s   newly-appointed support team comprised experts such as Dr Sibongile Zungu, who will head the project management unit and provide technical and clinical support for case management of hospitalised patients, including the availability of oxygen.

“The team has already hit the ground running,” he said.

“I must hasten to add that the provincial department of health is not under administration.

“The unit team will work closely with the [head] of health and will have a direct line to the premier for regular updates and to raise any issues that need the attention and decisions of cabinet.”

Mabuyane also spoke about the Covid-19 containment and mitigation strategy and said there were 22 infrastructure refurbishment projects at a cost of R32.4mi across the five districts and the two metros.

“These give us 480 beds and 65 high-care beds. An additional 42 projects with a value of R419.2m are in the pipeline for completion by the end of October.

“These will add 1,382 beds and 207 high-care beds to our health care facilities.”

He said health-care workers were provided with PPE, including  equipment donated by partners in the private sector.

“All of it will be deployed in our health facilities first to protect our health workers and patients from this virus.”

Mabuyane also touched on education and school readiness and said out of 5,253 schools, 4,726  were ready to receive pupils in grades 3, 6 and 11.

“We have noted the calls by unions for the complete shutdown of schooling and we will be guided by the national department of basic education as the opening and closure of schools falls under its competence.”

He also spoke against corruption and maladministration and called for anyone with evidence of wrongdoing to come forward and work with authorities to stop the rot.

“We have taken actions that are stopping corruption and wrongdoing in our system and we will continue doing so for the benefit of our people and province,” he said.

Among the updated figures he shared was that 2,462 Eastern Cape health-care workers had tested positive for Covid-19 and 35 had lost their lives.

By Zipo-Zenkosi Ncokazi – HeraldLIVE

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